- "I could have stopped it. I could have saved you all... "
- ―William Johnson, regarding his perceived threat of the colonists on the natives, 1774.
Sir William Johnson, 1st Baronet (c. 1715 – 1774) was an Anglo-Irish official of the British Empire, businessman and a member of the Colonial Rite of the Templar Order. During the Seven Years' War, Johnson commanded Iroquois and colonial militia forces. Johnson also assisted in keeping Native Americans committed to the interests of the British.
As a member of the Templars, Johnson was in charge of managing the land and property acquired by the Colonial Rite. During a meeting with several clan leaders, Johnson was assassinated by the Assassin Ratonhnhaké:ton.
Born to Catholic parents, Johnson learned at a young age that his opportunities were limited due to British anti-Catholic laws. After converting to Protestantism sometime in 1738, he left his birth country of Ireland to live in British Colonial America with his uncle, Admiral Peter Warren. He left however, to live on his own, after he was unable to convince his uncle to build on the trading routes with the Kanien'kehá:ka, which would boost business ventures and profits.
With what money he had obtained, Johnson bought a plot of land, built a mill, house, store, and farm on a major point in the trade route, calling the area Mount Johnson. From humble beginnings, his placement along the Mohawk River quickly made him wealthy and among the nobles of the Colonies.
In 1743 he moved once more, and obtained a much larger parcel of land, which he named Fort Johnson. During the interval time, he developed close relations with the Kanien'kehá:ka, learning their language and became familiar with their culture and customs and he was given the name "Warraghiyagey", which he translated as "A Man who undertakes great Things".
Joining the Colonial Rite
- Johnson: "I'm told you're putting together an expedition."
- Haytham: "We believe there's a precursor site in the region. I require your knowledge of the land and its people to find it."
- —Johnson and Kenway upon their meeting.[src]
In July 1754, Johnson was one of the many in attendance at the Albany Congress, where he was observed by the Assassin Shay Cormac. As Benjamin Franklin spoke outside the city hall, Johnson approached Franklin and discussed the likelihood of British Parliament granting autonomy to the colonies.
Johnson then discussed the mysterious "Precursor box" that Franklin had been examining for a short time. Franklin was eager to make the artifact work with his lightning experiment and Johnson promised that its counterpart, the Precursor manuscript, would be delivered to him shortly. However, he was informed by a British captain that his colleague James Wardrop refused to give the manuscript away. After Franklin departed, Johnson furiously ordered that the captain return to Fort Frederick and demand that Wardrop hand over the manuscript.
Haytham and Lee met with Johnson at the tavern, where Haytham explained that he would need his knowledge of the land to locate the precursor site. However, Johnson explained that his research had been stolen by bandits. Haytham and Lee set out and met with Hickey, successfully retrieving the research from a nearby fort and returned it to Johnson.
Johnson studied his notes, maps and Haytham's amulet; however, he was unable to pinpoint a precise location. The Templars concluded that they would need to befriend and earn the trust of the Kanien'kehá:ka people, in order to gain favor with them and information that would lead them to the precursor site.
Haytham and Lee gathered the remaining recruits, Benjamin Church and John Pitcairn and assembled them at the Green Dragon Tavern. Haytham proposed his plan to infiltrate Southgate Fort and assassinate Silas Thatcher to free the Kanien'kehá:ka slaves.
Johnson and the others proceeded to ambush a slave cart transport, killing the escorts and disguising themselves in their uniforms, where they then escorted the cart to the fort. Inside, Haytham stealthily freed the slaves while Johnson and the others blended with and distracted the guards.
However, upon realizing that the slaves had escaped, Silas raised the alarm. To this, Johnson and the others triggered a battle, fending off the guards while Haytham and Church killed Silas, allowing them to free the remaining slaves.
In 1755, Johnson and his fellow Templars learned that Haytham had been in contact with a Kanien'kehá:ka woman, Kaniehtí:io, and the two formulated a plan to kill General Edward Braddock. Johnson assisted in the attack of Braddock's expedition, allowing Haytham to kill Braddock. After discovering the precursor site, Haytham changed the overall plans to focus on establishing permanent bases, as well as expanding power and influence throughout the colonies.
The French and Indian War
In September later that year, Johnson participated in the Battle of Lake George to expel the French. He also negotiated and recruited Iroquois warriors for the British side. For his efforts, Johnson was rewarded £5000 and given the honorary title of Baronet. In early 1756, Shay turned his back on the Assassin Order, and was nearly killed in the process. Johnson's fellow Templar George Monro had his men rescue the Assassin, correctly suspecting that he had abandoned the Order. Johnson, however, strongly protested to this.
Later that year, Shay became affiliated with the Templars. After Shay destroyed the poison reserves of the Assassin Gangs of New York, Johnson met with him and his fellow Templars George Monro, Christopher Gist and Jack Weeks to congratulate Shay on his success. On Gist's suggestion, the group celebrated their success in a tavern. By 1756, Johnson was officially named Superintendent of Indian Affairs, acting as a liaison and between the Iroquois clans and the British Government. In 1758, after the death of George Monro, Johnson traveled to Fort Arsenal in New York City to witness the induction of his former enemy Shay into the Templar Order.
Throughout the years after the Braddock Expedition, Johnson led several expeditions to the precursor site, outraging the natives populating the land. In 1760, Lee, along with Johnson, Hickey and Church, attempted to once again find the precursor site. They searched for Kanatahséton to speak with the village elders. While in the forest they encountered a young boy. Lee assaulted and forcibly demanded the village's location from the boy, but to no avail.
Johnson knocked out the boy with the butt of his musket and left him. Soon after, Lee and the others found the village and attempted to negotiate with the tribe's elders, to no luck, prompting them to give up their search.
In 1763, after the end of the French and Indian War, Johnson remained in close relations with the Kanien'kehá:ka, and was donated more than three hundred square kilometers of land in gratitude. With the land, Johnson had up to sixty slaves construct a new manor and homestead, that would be known as Johnson Hall.
Treaty of Fort Stanwix
During a territory dispute between the colonists and Iroquois people, Johnson negotiated with the Iroquois Confederacy a new boundary line and to prevent armed conflict. In the signing of the Treaty of Fort Stanwix in 1768, Johnson conceded more land for the colonists than the British actually authorized. This damaged Johnson's relations with several Iroquois clans and would later lead to a brief conflict known as the Dunmore's War in Virginia.
Boston Tea Party
In 1773, Johnson arranged for more negotiations and intended to purchase all of the Iroquois land under Templar control in order to protect the Mohawk people from conflict with the colonists. Johnson had been gathering funds with the aid of Hickey's black-market connections, by smuggling British tea, which was heavily taxed at the time. Johnson gathered funds illegally by selling the smuggled tea crates through his contacts and lowered the tax return to the British Government. At the same time, he had his men go throughout the city of Boston as tax-collectors, stopping at people's houses and gathering more money from the civilians.
The Assassin, known as Connor, discovered Johnson's intentions and hindered his plans by killing Johnson's tax collectors and tea smugglers with the aid from Stephane Chapheau. The citizens of Boston also revolted against the British Parliament's taxation and destroyed the supply of tea in defiance of the Stamp Act.
Connor assisted Paul Revere and William Molineux in dumping the tea over the ships and into harbor. During this event, Johnson watched from the docks with Charles Lee and John Pitcairn. Johnson later used other means and resources to procure enough money for the purchase.
- "So be it. I offered you an olive branch, and you knocked it from my hand. Perhaps you'll respond better to the sword."
- ―William Johnson threatening to kill the Iroquois leaders.
However, most of the Iroquois leaders refused to be subjugated and stated they were prepared to defend their lands by force. Realizing his attempts were failing, he threatened the leaders with murder, hoping that they would concede.
Connor, who had infiltrated the area, silently sneaked to the top of Johnson's manor, leapt down and assassinated him before he could kill any of the Iroquois Clan Leaders. With his final words, Johnson explained that his intention was to protect the Iroquois and warned Connor that the colonists would become a threat to his people.
Personality and characteristics
- "My days are spent in congress with the locals, attempting to convince them that we are the ones they should trust, that the French are merely using them as tools, to be abandoned once they've won."
- ―William Johnson, 1754.
Johnson could easily be seen as an intelligent man among the crowd, fluent in difficult arithmetical workings and negotiation.
Throughout his life, Johnson consistently gave out the etiquette of a noble, but unlike his leader, was relatively well-mannered to everyone, even in difficult situations. When speaking with the Iroquois leaders before his death, he seemed genuinely reluctant to have to resort to death threats, and even was well-mannered in so doing.
In most cases, he was also a very calm individual, not taking difficult times into much fear or irritation, just simply embracing them. Even when employing threats, he never raised his voice nor show displays of altered concentration. This was probably the evidence of his abilities to negotiate, since the skill has the feature as a practical requirement. Despite this, Johnson still displayed anger and impatience, as seen when Wardrop refused to deliver the manuscript to him.
Johnson was an honorable man, dedicated, just as Haytham Kenway was, to the Templar vision and ideology. He truly believed in the righteousness of his cause and his duty to protect the natives from harm, though the Assassins and certain Natives tended to view his methods as being "evil" or "wicked". Despite his sometimes questionable methods, his private conversations with Haytham had shown that he certainly meant well for the people he aimed to protect, and also showed his dedication to his role as a "protector". His fears were ultimately proven true, as history proved the Native Americans' fortunes were to worsen over the course of the following century.
After Johnson's assassination, Connor confided to his Mentor Achilles Davenport that although he thought the act would bring a sense of clarity or accomplishment, all he felt afterwards was regret; a sacrifice Achilles told him to hold fast to, as such things were never easy. Likewise, Haytham Kenway confessed in his journal that Johnson had never been the "most good-humored of people"; in the end, he became a "bloody fool" who "made a pig's ear of the negotiations", resulting in his death.
- According to records, Johnson died of a stroke. In the Animus Database, Shaun said that it was probably better politically, since he had been threatening the tribal leaders that were associated with the British.
- Johnson appeared in the famous painting The Death of General Wolfe, which hung in the Davenport Homestead. However, he was not present during the event in reality.
- In the "We the People" memory, Johnson could be shot and killed by Shay, though he would appear unharmed in the next cutscene.
- In the non-canonical mobile adaptation of Assassin's Creed III, William Johnson is hunted down by Connor not for forcing the Iroquois to sell their land to him, but for fear that he would retaliate for the Boston Tea Party as he knew the names of the protest's organizers. Connor obtains the location of William Johnson from a contact in Boston, learning that he was meeting at the town hall with his allies. On the way to the town hall, he postpones his hunt to defend the Sons of Liberty at the Tea Party, before moving on to his destination. Infiltrating the hall, Connor locates the dining room where William sat in conference with his allies; he climbs on top of a giant chandelier, swings it towards William, and cuts it loose to send it crashing onto him and his nearby guards, killing him.
Behind the scenes
William Johnson is a historical character who first appeared in Assassin's Creed III, where he is voiced by Canadian actor Julian Casey. Guy Sprung replaced Julian as William's voice actor in Assassin's Creed: Rogue.
- Assassin's Creed III (first appearance)
- Assassin's Creed: Forsaken
- Assassin's Creed: Memories
- Assassin's Creed: Rogue